Code ABC again will provide an opportunity for primary school teachers to study coding skills in a MOOC, which is an open online course offered free of charge. These skills are needed already during the coming autumn when programming, or coding, will become a part of all parimary school teaching in Finland.
The first Code ABC MOOC, which was organised during the autumn, was graded 9.1 out of 10 by the participants, and over 500 teachers completed the course. Based on the experiences of the organisers and the feedback from the participants, the new course has been improved further.
'The teachers found the MOOC to be inspiring, challenging and useful from the viewpoint of their own work', explains Tarmo Toikkanen, an Aalto University researcher who is responsible for the coordination of the Code ABC.
'However, the learning platform employed wasn't the best possible for a massive online course with more than a thousand participants. For this reason, in the new course we have changed it to the Rubyric and A+ platforms developed at Aalto University. Among other things, they enable peer evaluation; thus, everyone will have an opportunity to get individual feedback.'
Medium for creativity
The spring course began on 22 February. Already it has attracted over 1,800 teachers, and enrolment is still possible for about two weeks until 13 March. The course has four lines of study: ScratchJr, Scratch and Racket, which were already included in the autumn's study offer, and, as a novelty, Python.
'The aim is that after completing the course the teacher will have mastered one programming tool and will feel able to use it in their work in a pedagogically meaningful way', Toikkanen sums up.
As the number of people working in primary education in Finland is about 40,000, it would be nearly impossible to teach programming skills by traditional means to all of them.
'A day-long CPD course generally can accommodate 20-30 participants and is constrained in terms of time and place. Assimilating coding skills in a single day is challenging. With a MOOC, it is possible to concentrate on the topic. One can also decide about the pace and place as long as the tasks get done', Toikkanen explains.
Why is it then important to introduce coding to schools?
'Coding is a new form of work in the primary school's palette – and an extremely motivating one, too. Many teachers have told that with coding it has been possible to involve also students who otherwise have been difficult to motivate in their studies. Coding is also a medium for creative expression: if drawing or writing an essay does not turn out well, coding can offer a fine method for self-realisation.'
Researcher Tarmo Toikkanen
Aalto University Department of Media
tel. +358 (0)50 603 84
You can enrol on in the Code ABC MOOC here until 13 March (the MOOC is in Finnish language).
The Code ABC is being coordinated by IT-kouluttajat ry. More information at http://koodiaapinen.fi/en/